Southsea-based captain orders the destruction of mine off Libya

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ROYAL NAVY warship HMS Bangor has destroyed a huge 2,500-pound bomb off the coast of Libya.

The minehunter exploded the mine on the sea bed near the key trading port of Tobruk.

ACTIVE DUTY HMS Bangor

ACTIVE DUTY HMS Bangor

Her crew found the Libyan explosive sitting in 145 metres of water and blew it up using an armed underwater drone called Sea Fox.

As she prepared to leave Tobruk, the ship also found a torpedo nearby and blasted that as well.

Bangor’s skipper, Lieutenant Commander Neil Marriott, 38, who lives in Southsea, said: ‘To find two pieces of ordnance and destroy them safely is a great result for my Ship’s Company.

‘We have been hunting for mines since June, working from port to port, and a success like this means shipping into Libya is that much safer.’

Both weapons were spotted by a mine warfare team working in Bangor’s darkened operations room. They scan sonar screens which show shadows and shapes on the sea bed.

Ops room supervisor Petty Officer Steve ‘Stirling’ Moss, 40, said: ‘When we’re mine-hunting we have several people watching the screens for any contact.

‘On this task we saw several items which looked about the size of a mine, and two of them turned out to be real.

‘It’s not a regular thing to happen, so we’re really pleased we found them and we were able to destroy them.’

Bangor’s 38-strong crew have been part of Operation Unified Protector since taking over from the Portsmouth-based minehunter HMS Brocklesby, which blew up a mine near Misrata as the war with Colonel Gaddafi raged.

Lt Cdr Neil Marriott said: ‘We were due to go and work in the North Sea and Baltic when we deployed, but this task took priority and we were ready to do it.

‘We have hunted for mines off Benghazi and Brega already, and are ready to search in any other Libyan port that needs it.

‘With both of these explosives they were historic, and their detonation methods had corroded, but they could still have been set off accidentally so it was the right thing to do to destroy them.’

Bangor moved away from the Libyan coastline with a Dutch minehunter and Canadian frigate on Sunday, but is ready to return there if needed.